Just this spring, Adobe provided an update to Lightroom Classic CC (having changed the name to incorporate “Classic” last fall in order to differentiate it from the entirely cloud-based suite of applications, known simply as Lightroom CC) that adds a new set of performance upgrades and features—in particular, some tremendous new controls to RAW image profiles. Here’s what you need to know about those new RAW profiles, and I also provide a rundown of other neat adjustments to the application.
When Adobe updated Lightroom at the beginning of the year, the company focused on faster performance—particularly when it comes to importing and exporting. Photographers had been telling Adobe these areas were lagging, so the developer improved the speed of these processes, especially for machines running 12 GB or more of RAM. It also provided new options for searching nested folders more efficiently, as well as quickly creating collections from existing folders or geotags.
The tone curve has been expanded in order to provide greater control over all aspects of exposure and contrast control. For instance, now you can really dig into shadows, midtones and highlights separately and tweak each of them with finer controls than before. This simply offers greater precision for those photographers who want to fine-tune their images to tighter tolerances. Other usability changes include moving the Dehaze Slider from its former out-of-the-way location in the Effects tab to the prime real estate of the Basic tab, right under the Clarity slider, putting it in a place where this useful tool is likely to get more attention. Also, the application now provides full-size previews of the effects of Develop presets as you mouse-over a given preview. Previously, that preview appeared in the small Navigator window in the top left of the Develop module, but now as you pause your mouse over a given Develop preset, the preview appears on the full image—making it easier to determine if it is, in fact, the look you’re going for.
This year’s biggest changes to Lightroom Classic CC, however, are related to Raw profiles. Adobe has augmented traditional camera manufacturer profiles with new Adobe Raw profiles, as well as creative profiles that make more impactful one-click changes to the overall look and feel of an image file. They’re the perfect place to start making adjustments to a Raw image file before other edits are made.
Camera profiles had long been buried at the bottom of the develop module in the Camera Calibration tab, but now they’re right there at the top of the Basic tab. This is the perfect place for them because selecting the Raw profile is the perfect place to start editing an image. Just as you have been able to select camera-specific profiles in the past, now you can select profiles such as Adobe Monochrome, Landscape, Neutral, Portrait and Vivid in order to change the look of an image non-destructively. The creative profiles, of which there are four sets of eight profiles, are built to ride on top of other adjustments you’ve made—to exposure, saturation and sharpness, for instance—so they won’t obliterate any Develop module edits when switching between looks. Monochrome is the default black-and-white profile, while Adobe Color is the new default neutral color profile for Raw images. Landscape boosts saturation all over, and especially in blues and greens, while Neutral creates a flatter, less saturated overall image. Portrait is optimized for skin tones, while Vivid adds contrast and vibrance while still maintaining nice skin tones—great for pictures of people in landscapes.
The Artistic set of Creative profiles is designed to make bigger, bolder changes to the colors in an image. Black and White Creative profiles are intended to make stronger, more dramatic monotone images. The Modern set of profiles offers a variety of looks that are currently fashionable, while the Vintage profiles mimic the effects so often seen in analog film photographs (things such as increased shadow detail, lower contrast, higher saturation).
Best of all, these creative profiles come with a slider (labeled “amount”) that allows you to intensify or dial back the overall impact of a given profile.